Cost-benefit analysis and non-utilitarian ethics

R.J. Lowry, M.B. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Cost-benefit analysis is commonly understood to be intimately connected with utilitarianism and incompatible with other moral theories, particularly those that focus on deontological concepts such as rights. We reject this claim and argue that cost-benefit analysis can take moral rights as well as other non-utilitarian moral considerations into account in a systematic manner. We discuss three ways of doing this, and claim that two of them (output filters and input filters) can account for a wide range of rights-based moral theories, including the absolute notions of moral rights proposed by Hayek, Mayo, Nozick, and Shue. We also discuss whether the use of output filters and input filters can be generalized to cover other non-utilitarian theories, such as Kantian duty ethics and virtue ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-279
JournalPolitics, Philosophy & Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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